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  1. #1

    Default Indispensable nonfiction & reference books?

    Looking at our bookshelves, I noticed that we're mostly readers of fiction :-)

    What are some indispensable nonfiction & reference books for your family?

    We'd like to start adding to our personal library, focusing on sciences, history, math, and identification / field guides (we're in northern CA). Our eldest is five yrs old, so anything for lower elementary to adult is great!

    To start, we like Ultimate Bugopedia, H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations & The Stars, DK / Smithsonian Dinosaur!, and other random DK titles.

    Also, is Story of the World worth purchasing?

    Thanks, all!
    Last edited by echomyst; 03-21-2015 at 08:18 PM.

  2. T4L In Forum July19
  3. #2

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    Peterson's Field Guides are Elle's absolute favorite America's best selling field guide for a reason...they're awesome! She has a shelf full, has tried MANY different kinds, and loves them the best.

    Peterson's offers "Peterson First Guides" that are wonderfully suited for younger kids who prefer a more simplified entry. They also offer field guide coloring books that are fantastic.

    http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/...anner=coloring
    Last edited by CrazyMom; 03-21-2015 at 08:37 PM.
    Retired Home Schooler
    One kid, Elle, Sophomore at The University of Michigan studying Cell/ Molecular Biology Go Blue!
    One hubby, 23yrs

    Not a fan of homophobe, Everett Piper, who is sometimes promoted by others at this site. Read about him here:: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/conten...itics-hate-god
    CAUTION: might make blasphemous remarks that could potentially offend religious people. Please use ignore feature if sensitive.

  4. #3

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    For science and history, we like the Kingfisher encyclopedias and the Usborne encyclopedias.

    My son really likes the Scholastic Discover More series. They have great information and wonderful pictures and cover a variety of topics.

    As for SOTW, it sort of depends on how you want to use it. It isn't a reference book, it is a narrative. I have one kid who loves SOTW and one who won't touch it.
    Spending my days learning with DD 10 and DS 8.

  5. #4

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    For littles, we most love(d) Citizen Kid (CitizenKid | Kids Can Press) and Christiane Dorion's books (www.christianedorion.com/books.php.) Also, 'The Night Sky' by Michael Driscoll continues to come off the shelf regularly.
    Last edited by Solong; 03-21-2015 at 10:51 PM. Reason: can't make links work on tablet

  6. #5

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    Our favorite space book (big interest to DS) was Childs Introduction to the Nights Sky.
    http://www.amazon.com/Childs-Introdu...+the+night+sky
    We started reading it to him when he was preschool age, and goes a lot past the boring 8.5 planets with generic facts. A lot may go over your younuns heads, but it will give you as much knowledge as watching every space science show on cable.
    We also liked *The Book of Constellations* by Robin Kerrod. It touches on the myth about the constellation, plus gives interesting tidbits about the stars in it.
    http://www.amazon.com/Book-Constella...constellations

    National Geographic's Prehistoric Animals by Alan Turner - we kept this book checked out from the library for a few months, so decided to buy our own. Lots of pictures, references, timelines, and more than just dinosaurs. Includes human evolution.
    http://www.amazon.com/National-Geogr...storic+animals

    Greek Myths and Legends by Cheryl Evans - its marketed to kids, but does a good job introducing the pantheon with enough squishy bits, but not too many. DS used it in 1st grade as how he learned abt the gods. It did a much better job than any of the other pantheons we learned about. If she made a Egyptian and Norse version, Id buy it in an instant.

    SOTW gives a prejudicial but narrative version made for children of world history. (IMO.) A lot of homeschoolers use it, but I think a part of that is because there doesnt appear to anything comparable as a substitute. I looked everywhere for an alternative book that had world history comprehensible for younguns that wasnt boring as heck. We pieced together our introduction to early world history with DK, Usborne, and other topical books. Most SOTW users supplement with these anyway. You might ask them how necessary it is, or you can just buy the student book for activities. Check it out from the library, or borrow it from a homeschooler.

    HTH
    Last edited by alexsmom; 03-21-2015 at 11:29 PM.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  7. #6

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    If you like DK, Give Usborne a whirl! We love their Elementary Math and Science Dictionaries, and their lift-tab "See Inside" series is great for preschoolers.

    David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.

    Where are you in Northern California? I have a...robust collection of guides and might have titles specific to your area, but in truth, my kids love love love the laminated guides you can buy in the visitor education center in your local parks.
    FKA Hordemama
    Stay-at-home-librarian parenting a horde of two sons: Marauder 1 (M1) born in 2007, and Marauder 2 (M2) born in 2012.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by hordemama View Post
    David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.
    I was going to suggest these too. Kiddo absolutely adores them. He always gets a kick out of the illustrations.

  9. #8

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    Ha! That's the same book, alexsmom (nightsky, driscoll) It's a great book, and I can't remember where I found it. Maybe someone on this forum recommended it?

    I missed the California bit. Google Acorn Naturalists!! I'm a broken record on this one, but it is worth replaying over and over and over... in fact, that may be where I found Night Sky/Droscoll, lol!

  10. #9

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    I think we were writing at the same time!
    We picked ours up before DS was born, at a trip to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff for Astronomy Day!
    It is such a fantastic reference though! I think thats where I learned all about Astrology (not astronomy), what the zodiac is supposed to be, what retrograde is, and why with solar progression, the dates for the signs are half inaccurate, so those ignoramuses thinking Im a Capricorn are just nuts.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  11. #10

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    Thanks, all! Excited to finally add some quality nonfiction & reference materials to our home library.

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyMom View Post
    Peterson's Field Guides are Elle's absolute favorite America's best selling field guide for a reason...they're awesome! She has a shelf full, has tried MANY different kinds, and loves them the best.

    Peterson's offers "Peterson First Guides" that are wonderfully suited for younger kids who prefer a more simplified entry. They also offer field guide coloring books that are fantastic.

    Peterson Field Guide Coloring Books
    Our 5yo is a big fan of colouring things -- might be fun for her!

    Quote Originally Posted by ElizabethK View Post
    For science and history, we like the Kingfisher encyclopedias and the Usborne encyclopedias.

    My son really likes the Scholastic Discover More series. They have great information and wonderful pictures and cover a variety of topics.

    As for SOTW, it sort of depends on how you want to use it. It isn't a reference book, it is a narrative. I have one kid who loves SOTW and one who won't touch it.
    I hear that younger kids often prefer the Usborne encyclopediae over the Kingfisher ones (the latter geared towards older kids). Do you find this to be the case with your kids? I'll see if we could borrow some from our local library and see what our 5yo thinks.

    * * *

    We'll definitely have to check out Michael Driscoll's Night Sky book & David Macaulay's books then. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post

    SOTW gives a prejudicial but narrative version made for children of world history. (IMO.) A lot of homeschoolers use it, but I think a part of that is because there doesnt appear to anything comparable as a substitute. I looked everywhere for an alternative book that had world history comprehensible for younguns that wasnt boring as heck. We pieced together our introduction to early world history with DK, Usborne, and other topical books. Most SOTW users supplement with these anyway. You might ask them how necessary it is, or you can just buy the student book for activities. Check it out from the library, or borrow it from a homeschooler.

    HTH
    Yeah... I've looked everywhere for an interesting story-like intro to world history for young kids, but it always comes back to SOTW. Our 5yo prefers fiction -- stories -- over nonfiction, and I don't blame her since I'm much the same way! No copies at our library, but maybe another homeschooler (we're just starting out, so still new to everything)!

    Quote Originally Posted by hordemama View Post
    If you like DK, Give Usborne a whirl! We love their Elementary Math and Science Dictionaries, and their lift-tab "See Inside" series is great for preschoolers.

    David Macaulay's non-fiction books (The Way Things Work, The Way We Work, Built to Last, etc.) are beautifully drawn and great for visual learners.

    Where are you in Northern California? I have a...robust collection of guides and might have titles specific to your area, but in truth, my kids love love love the laminated guides you can buy in the visitor education center in your local parks.

    I forgot to mention Usborne in my original post, but we love whatever we've seen of the Usborne books so far! We're in Petaluma; how about you? What field guides do you recommend? Our 5yo is especially interested in insects/invertebrates, birds, and wildflowers. I hadn't even thought of collecting the laminated guides from visitor education centers -- thanks for the tip!


    Quote Originally Posted by AnonyMs View Post
    Ha! That's the same book, alexsmom (nightsky, driscoll) It's a great book, and I can't remember where I found it. Maybe someone on this forum recommended it?

    I missed the California bit. Google Acorn Naturalists!! I'm a broken record on this one, but it is worth replaying over and over and over... in fact, that may be where I found Night Sky/Droscoll, lol!
    I'd bookmarked Acorn Naturalists long ago, apparently, but had never looked into it in depth. Now I will! :-)

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Indispensable nonfiction & reference books?